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Healing After the Death of a Loved One

Studies show that there are several stages to the grieving process. These stages don?t occur in the same order and time frame for everyone. How long one takes in the grieving process depends on many factors such as the nature of the death, family or community healing rituals, where or how the bereaved thinks the deceased will spend eternity, and the status of the bereaved?s relationship with God.

Death of a loved one changes the lives of those who are left behind forever. For those, like me, who have experienced several losses, the road of healing keeps lengthening. Each loss is a painful reminder of previous experiences.

It is possible to find purpose in life after the death of a loved one. However, the healing process is a life-time process. Some individuals can heal significantly within a relatively short time by re-focusing on events and goals that are purposeful and lift the burden of sorrow.

Understanding that what you are going through will pass is the beginning of the healing process.

Job was in the same predicament when he said, "Oh that my grief were thoroughly weight, and my calamity laid in the balances all together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea? (Job 6:2-3). At times, we tie our self-worth to our experience of the moment. Our identity may to change at the time of a loved one?s death. It helps to know that irrespective of our past and present turmoil, we can still have a bright future. The word of God says, "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end? (Jeremiah 29:11).

Close relationships are helpful when we are grieving. A close fellowship with God helps us hold on to His promise, "When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee? (Isaiah 43:2). Being with family members helps us bear our loss as a group. Friends also help if you can call them and be open to discuss your feelings. Friends need to know that grieving does not end on the day of the funeral. For some bereaved members, the initial shock is so intense that grieving may not start until later. My mother was in such a shock that her grieving for my sister started weeks after the funeral.

Unfortunately, following our loss, we may feel like we need to be left alone. We may not go to church, social clubs or exercise activities. It is helpful to regain our routine as soon as we can. The presence of other
people is a natural remedy for loneliness.

Doing something new is therapeutic. When my sister, Jane, passed on in 1995, I lost the desire to do anything I was doing just before her death. I started writing the African folktales my mother taught me. Within months, I had a book and a new career. Shortly after the death of my brother, Ghana, in 1998, I started writing poems on grief.


When grieving, sometimes we feel like Elijah when he prayed that he may die. However, God?s angel brought him food and said, "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee? (1 Kings 19:7). We need to "feed" spiritually, physically and socially when our lives seem to lose meaning. We need to renew or develop a new vision of our life, reassess our practices and re-focus our lives to nurture bonds that will provide a cushion for us to fall on in times of turbulence.

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